Personally, the highlight of my Geneva tour has definitely got to be the iconic outdoor clock.
According to the tour guide, the thousands of flowers that maketh this clock are changed regularly to ensure that they are always fresh and don’t ruin the pattern and design of the clock...truly amazing as to how much work goes into maintaining this world class site.
With Canton of Geneva covered and appreciated, it was time to set off to Paris...the city of love and romance. Heading to Paris wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be...this particular part of my tour had me in knots and ties...it was finally hitting me that this was it...all the past months work was about to be put to test and a part of me was questioning my preparedness and thinking maybe it was silly of me to think I could conquer a full marathon all alone in a foreign land...but the train ride from Geneva to France was long enough to calm me down, that and all the words of encouragement from my team mates and friends who were all rooting for me and kept reminding me that I had this and they believed in me.
With all that support and words of encouragement, my confidence levels picked up...which was a good thing because a full marathon challenges you psychologically more than it does physically...and I needed my head to completely be in this.
But hey, even with a full marathon in the cards, who comes to France and doesn’t do a tour of the beautiful city, home to the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre which is the Worlds longest museum...not forgetting the Triumphal arc and national monument. So marathon fears and thoughts aside I put on my tourist hat one last time and hit the streets of Paris.
When in Rome do as the Romans do...so first things first I had to blend and fit in with the locals. So on my way to the iconic Eiffel Tower I stopped by one of the hawkers along the roadside and bought a beret...if you know anything about the French then you will definately understand why it was important that I wore a beret when I took my Eiffel Tower picture...I know, I am that extra...we do it for the gram baby, every picture, pose, outfit, caption and hashtags are planned to the tee...kidding (not).
One of the locals recommended touring the city by boat...which turned out to be a good recommendation as the boat ride gives a unique perspective on Paris and takes one on a beautiful and scenic trip along the Seine River to discover the City of Lights from the water.
With lots of pictures and happy thoughts I retired to bed early that night, not because the city tour had exhausted me but because I needed to be well rested and in the right state of mind for Sunday 08 April: d-day; marathon day.
And finally the day arrived...the reason why I was on this mini Euro tour was upon me and there was no turning back. My alarm went off and I jumped out of bed, alive with nervousness and excitement all in one. This was the day I had been looking forward to...I got this...all the way to the finish line...I am getting that medal...I was my own hype man that morning and talked myself into all kinds of positivity as I got dressed...black tights, black top, Orange socks and an Orange cap and a branded buff...all these elements were fully branded and bore the Orange Running Club logo as well as Mohiri’s logo...and all clad in my black and Orange colours I was ready to take on the challenge.
My teammates had downloaded the app that allowed them to track my movement and monitor my progress throughout the race...knowing that they were rooting for me and monitoring my progress every step of the way somehow got me feeling like they were running right there with me...every so often I would pull out my phone and drop a line to the group to tell them how I was feeling and they would re-hype me.
Yes it was a marathon and a race against the clock...but I was also on vacation so yes it was important to run but what fun would it be to run the most beautiful marathon in the world and not capture the moments (hides).
The camera came out to play every time I passed a point of interest and I captured quite a few happy and beautiful moments along the route.
My favourite part has definately got to be at about 15km when I saw these two Kenyan guys waving their flag happily on the side of the road.. .as I approached they shouted BOTSWANA...I was like ‘oh my God...they know where I am from’ and I legit shed a tear...lol.
That seemed to have re-energised me and I kept going...with over half the distance left I knew I had to push...not just hard but faster as well because remember if we missed the six hour mark we weren’t going to get that medal. Mind over matter...one foot in front of the other...I kept on moving...run a bit...walk a lil...run some more...walk a lil...until the end if need be but I wasn’t going to quit.
And it worked...the kms passed and I eventually hit the 40km mark, at that point I was filled with joy because I was only 2km away from victory but my body seemed to be crashing and my legs felt like jelly...I began doubting their ability to carry me to the end.
I remember at this point, huffing and puffing I moved to the side of the road, bent over and did a lil pep talk...stretched my legs a bit and pulled out the last pack of Tiger Balm that I had and applied it on my sheen muscles...15 more minutes I told myself...15 more minutes and it will be over. I could picture my teammates sitting on the edge of their seats looking at my stationery chip and looking at the time wondering if I would make it on time. Failure was not an option...I had come too far to lose. With the last bit of strength in me I started moving, slowly at first then began trotting lightly...I needed to keep on moving, that’s all I needed to do. And with just a lil over three minutes to cut off time I made it across the finish line...all I heard was the commentator shout BOTSWANA ladies and gentlemen...and the tears came pouring down my cheeks fast and hard...hands in the air I screamed and laughed and cried all at once as I wobbled over to the other side to collect my finishers t-shirt and medal.
Days later and I still can’t put to words exactly how I was feeling at that moment, but I had done it. I had travelled all the way from Botswana, challenged myself and won...and I have the t-shirt and medal to prove it! And it only hit me then that this wasn’t just about running, it was about life in general and facing all its adversities and challenges head on with a predisposed attitude to win because half the time we lose because we tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough or we can’t do it.
Mind over matter is all I can say...if you can dream it then best believe you can achieve it...impossible is nothing, anything that we set our minds to do we can achieve. So believe in yourself, believe in your dreams...because your dreams are valid and you are capable.
Never ever let anyone tell you otherwise...I come out of my Euro tour with renewed strength and belief in myself and my dreams...I got this, I am capable, I can and I will do it.
And with Paris Marathon in the bag...I am here wondering and planning where to next? What other major city am I conquering next? Because I am that girl...I don’t do vacations...I RUNcation because this is what I do, it’s a lifestyle.